All 3 midlands power stations to burn biomass by 2020

It is believed that Bord na Mona will shortly make a major announcement concerning the ongoing move from peat to biomass at three power stations.

The company’s own power station at Edenderry is currently co-fuelled with both peat and biomass. The two ESB power stations in the midlands (Lough Ree and West Offaly Power) still exclusively use peat as a fuel. It is believed that plans are afoot, whereby both of these power stations will transition in 2020 to co-fuelling with both peat and biomass.

Critically important

Transitioning those two stations to the hybrid peat-biomass model is thought to be critically important to the continuing ability of Bord na Mona to employ 2,100 people – principally in the midlands region.

The transition to peat-biomass co-fuelling is also said to be important from a national policy perspective as, among other things, it underpins national energy security and helps Ireland to meet its renewable energy target for 2020.

Future biomass supplies

Bord na Mona has apparently conducted an assessment of its future sourcing and supply of peat and “sustainable biomass” for the three power stations.

As part of the assessment, the company is believed to have carried out “technical and commercial reviews of all its current and future biomass supplies”. Following the reviews, it is believed that the company has decided that it will not proceed with a proposal to directly develop a US-based biomass pellet plant.

Bord na Mona will, instead, proceed with “a broadly-based biomass supply chain – with a clear preference for Irish supplies”.

The company does, however, intend for other overseas supplies to supplement Irish supplies in “the short-to-medium term”.

It’s worth noting that the PSO (Public Service Obligation) for the use of peat in the Edenderry power station (the Bord na Mona owned facility) expired in 2015. The PSO for the use of peat in West Offaly Power and Lough Ree power stations will expire next year – in 2019.

The supply of indigenous biomass to the Edenderry power station has increased over recent years.